Calorie counts on menus ‘dangerous’ for people recovering from eating disorders

Nine out of ten people with eating disorders are negatively impacted by the pandemic, according to a new study

New research is calling for menu calorie counts to be scrapped, claiming they are ‘dangerous’ for people with eating disorders.

A law meaning large businesses are required to display calorie information on menus and food labels was introduced in England in April 2022.

But Beat – an eating disorder charity – are making calls for change after surveying more than 400 patients with eating disorders, according to The Times.

Four in five (80%) respondents with illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia said that seeing calories on menus had damaged their recovery.

In addition, 90% said that seeing the calories affected their menu choice. As a result, they felt pressure to follow dangerous thoughts.

‘Compelling’ evidence

Around 70% of respondents ate out less frequently and avoided restaurants where they knew calorie counts were on display.

Tom Quinn is the director of external affairs at Beat. He said: ‘Calorie counts on menus harm people with eating disorders — it’s that simple.

‘People with eating disorders will change their meal choice based on calorie count — but they are also the people who shouldn’t.’

He added that there is ‘clear and compelling’ evidence to show the harm calorie counts cause.

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Treatment issues

This comes as reports show that people with eating disorders in Wales could be sent as far away as Scotland in order to get treatment.

Patients are assessed on the ‘greatest clinical need’ by an NHS England panel. This then decides where in the UK they will be treated.

Wales does not currently have an adult inpatient eating disorder unit.

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